Monday, 27 August 2012

Zombie Strippers - review

2008 (USA)

Contains spoilers.

I think I've been spoiling myself so far with some of the best and most iconic films the genre has to offer, so I thought it was about time I brought myself back down to earth. I mean we all know by their very nature zombie films are the best films ever, but if I'm honest I'm also all too aware that the medium has produced its share of stinkers along the way, and with that in mind I went into Zombie Strippers with low expectations...

Zombie Strippers is a film about zombies and strippers and zombie strippers. Throw in a specialised army dispatch squad, a well known name, Robert Englund, some famous porn stars such as Jenna Jameson and a light farcical plot and we have a film that on paper sounds at once both awful and fantastic.

Claiming to be based loosely on Eugene Ionesco's classic play Rhinoceros, loosely being the word, Zombie Strippers starts by following team Z, a specialist military containment unit brought in to manage a zombie outbreak at a secret military facility in Nebraska. In a satirical, farcical and over the top opening montage, setting the standard for what was to come, we are introduced to idea that under George W. Bush's fourth term in office the US are engaged in so many wars that they're running out of personnel to fight them. It was while researching a virus that could re-animate dead Marines to send them back into battle that the test subjects got free and things got out of control.

During the battle to retake the facility new recruit Byrdflough (Zak Kilberg) is bitten and decides, seeing the no risk approach his comrades take, that his best course of action is to flee. A very short time later and he finds refuge in the underground strip club 'Rhinos' run by Ian (Robert Englund) a fastidious strip club owner whose only motivation is money and the Blavatski (Carmit Levite), the retired Russian madam who handles the girls.

And to the meat of the story, the girls strip and the punters throw them money, Byrdflough bites head girl Kat (Jenna Jameson) turning her into a zombie, with the result that she's now not only a better stripper but the crowd are willing to throw even more money at her. Ian whilst initially hesitant gets on board once he sees this money and the only downside, the zombie strippers' insatiable appetite for human flesh which they indluge between dances, is dealt with by locking the zombies victims in a cage in the cellar.

A rather strange decision throughout was unlike the zombies at the facility and the victims of the strippers who behave like any good Romero zombie should, the stripper zombies can talk, dance, argue, read and possess apparent super-human strength and agility. For the film to work this decision was probably the right one and the interplay between zombie and non-zombie strippers is a good dynamic that leads the narrative for the second half of the film. Constantly painting the strip club audience as the real mindless horde, Jay Lee plays with the idea that once they've seen zombie strippers, regular strippers aren't enough to sate their appetites any more and this leads to stripper politics and bitching with some of the girls deciding they want to be zombie strippers too. More stripping, more killing and more carnage and, how shall we put it, a lively and inventive, on stage confrontation between the two head zombie stripper rivals later and things get totally out of control.

When sticking to what it does well it actually works quite well. The  zombie gore scenes are cringe worthy and in bad taste, and the action and humour ensure the film moves along at a good lively pace. The acting is hammy but fits in well and whilst I wouldn't exactly be dishing out any special awards I did find myself quite caught up in the experience. As stated before though, at times though the film tries just that little too hard as if Jay Lee got cold feet at just how shallow the whole might be perceived, and it's these serious moments of philosophical reflection that ironically seem the most shallow as if someone thought that quoting a few passages from the ladybird book of philosophy would suddenly elevate audiences' opinion of what they were seeing.

For the most part Zombie Strippers knows what it is and plays to these strengths. Unlike other zombie comedies like Shaun of the Dead and Juan of the Dead, it knows it's a farce and shouldn't be taken seriously and when doing what it does well is a fun over the top zombie bad taste popcorn flick. For what it's worth I quite enjoyed it, 5/10.


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